VAIL — Dale Bugby believes the Vail Town Council’s current conflict with homeowners around the Vail golf course could have been avoided by being more neighborly. It’s that conflict that prompted him to run this fall for a seat on the Vail Town Council.
Bugby, who runs Vail Resort Rentals, said the controversy over the proposal for a new clubhouse at the course, along with re-locating the 18th green, was the “tipping point” for his candidacy.
“I became the de facto spokesman (for plan opponents), and I gradually became obligated to know what was going on,” Bugby said.
The dispute over the future of the clubhouse — specifically, what kind of new events and traffic it would draw — goes beyond the golf course and into the surrounding neighborhood. That’s why neighbors are suing the town to stop the clubhouse project.
Bugby said he’s sympathetic to the neighbors’ viewpoint.
“They bought into this perfect, idyllic neighborhood, and now there’s this,” he said.
And, Bugby said, the Town Council did itself no favors by the way it treated critics of the golf course plan.
“I saw some unneighborly responses (from the council),” he said.
“It would have been easy to reach out to golfers and the neighbors,” Bugby added.
While this is Bugby’s first run for Vail Town Council, it’s not his first foray into politics. While he was working as a property manager in Denver, he ran for that city council — and lost. Not long after, he returned to Vail.
A Michigan native, Bugby was in high school when he first came to Vail with his grandfather in the 1970s. He decided right then this was where he wanted to be. He went to hotel school and went to work for The Westin company after graduation. Soon after, Bugby was offered a job at one of the company’s hotels in Washington, D.C. But Western skies beckoned, so Bugby loaded up a rusted-out Ford Pinto and headed into the sunset.
After arriving in Vail, he first camped out at a U.S. Forest Service campground near Dowd Junction, showered every day at the Vail bus station, put on a suit and went looking for work. He soon landed a job as the head housekeeper at the Vail Landmark and quickly worked his way up the resort’s management team.
Working at a lodge in Beaver Creek, Bugby was laid off when the property changed owners and went to Denver to work in the commercial real estate business.
When the opportunity came to buy Vail Resort Rentals in the mid-1990s, he jumped at the chance.
“I’m in the same office, at the same location, today,” he said. “I still live only five minutes from my office.”
During the years, Bugby also served on the board of directors of what’s now the Vail Chamber & Business Association.
“I was on it when it first formed because they needed more hoteliers,” he said.
Bugby believes his experience will give the valley’s lodging business a strong voice on the council if he’s elected.
Beyond the golf course, Bugby said he’s hopeful he can help guide the council’s actions on other issues, too. Parking, of course, is an everlasting issue in Vail, and Bugby believes the town needs more of it.
“I think it’s a bigger problem than we realize, and we’re going to have to figure it out,” he said, adding that it might be time for the town to go into debt to expand the parking structures in Vail Village and Lionshead, as well as create parking in other locations. Looking in the longer term, Bugby said parking and other structures might be built over the top of Interstate 70.
The town also needs to re-focus on housing as well, he said, but housing, parking and bus service are all part of the same equation.
While council members come and go, Bugby, like the other candidates this fall, is an enthusiastic fan of his hometown.
“I’m totally passionate about Vail,” he said. “I’ve been hugely successful here — I came in a $90 car — I really think I can make a difference and be a good voice for the hotel industry.”
And, while he’s been critical of this council, Bugby said he believes he’ll be a good council member if elected.
“It will be a little hard at first,” he said. “But as people get to know me, it’ll be fine.”